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Boystown: Four held in German-led raid on one of the world’s biggest child sexual abuse networks

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Three men in Germany have been arrested and man in Paraguay is being held after international raids targeting one of the world’s biggest online networks of child sexual abuse images.

The dark web platform, known as “Boystown”, had more than 400,000 registered users and was active since 2019.

Police found “images of most severe sexual abuse of toddlers” among the photos and video material posted on the platform, mostly targeting young boys.

Those arrested in a series of raids from mid-April include a 40-year-old man from Paderborn, a 49-year-old man from Munich and a 58-year-old man from northern Germany living in Paraguay.

German prosecutors allege the trio worked as administrators of the site and gave advice to members on how to evade law enforcement when using the platform for illegal child pornography.

A fourth suspect, a 64-year-old man from Hamburg, is accused of being one of the most active users of the platform, having allegedly uploaded more than 3,500 posts.

The platform existed on the dark web, hidden outside of the reach of search engines and most internet users.

It has been pulled down in the wake of the German-led investigation, which involved police across the US, Canada, Australia, Sweden and the Netherlands.

German interior minister Horst Seehofer said: “This investigative success has a clear message: Those who assault the weakest aren’t safe anywhere. That’s what investigators work for day and night, online and offline, globally.”

He added: “We’ll do everything within our power to protect the kids from these disgusting crimes.”

EU policing agency Europol said it is using images and videos seized during the investigation to identify victims and potential perpetrators, with “more arrests and rescues” to be expected globally as forces are passed the information.

Additional reporting by agencies

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